My grandmother’s backyard is a garden oasis. She won’t admit this but I know it’s her favourite grandchild. 

My whole life I’ve been surrounded by avid gardeners, and I understood at an early age, where food comes from. 

I still marvel at how tall Walking Stick Kale can grow (right now, my Gogo’s is just over two meters), and it’s hard not to be thrilled by the sight of plum radish being pulled out of the soil.

Today, I want to tell you about a different type of garden, one that you can’t see but is crucial to tend to: your “gut garden” (two words you should familiarize yourself with if you’re aiming to lead a healthier lifestyle in 2018).

The human digestive system is home to trillions of microorganisms. Collectively, this complex ecosystem is referred to as the GI microbiome. These microorganisms can be thought of as the plants and the weeds of our gut garden. Some we want, and some we don’t.

The more types of friendly gut bacteria we harbour, the better the digestive process, and the less chance that particular food component will upset your stomach or trigger a harmful inflammatory response. 

To encourage a healthy and diverse microbiome, two things are essential: prebiotic power foods (onions, almonds, bananas, asparagus, garlic, kiwi, oats, legumes etc.) and probiotic power foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, beets, traditional cured Greek olives, yoghurt, kombucha tea etc.)

Kombucha tea with orange slices
For a prebiotic boost, try this: pack thinly sliced red onions into a pint jar and cover with a mixture of boiling water, apple cider vinegar and honey then refrigerate overnight for quick pickles; combine chopped yellow onions, red and yellow bell peppers, olive oil, vinegar and basil for a fast, fresh relish; dip onion rings in beaten eggs and gluten-free bread crumbs, spray with olive oil then bake until golden and tender.
For a probiotic boost, try this: toss prepared sauerkraut with baby spinach, grated carrots and chopped scallions for an easy, healing salad; use it as a topping for burgers, sandwiches or scrambled eggs; make a hearty white bean soup then top with sauerkraut after removing from heat.